Biosciences Graduate Program

Lori Wallrath, PhD


Professor of Biochemistry

Contact Information

Primary Office: 3136 MERF
Iowa City, IA 52242
Primary Office Phone: 319-335-7920

Web: Wallrath Laboratory


BS, Microbiology, Michigan State University
PhD, Genetics, Michigan State University

Post Doctoral, Chromatin Structure and Gene Expression, Washington University in St. Louis

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Biosciences Graduate Program
Department of Biochemistry PhD
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Research in the Wallrath laboratory is focused the role of chromatin packaging, gene expression and nuclear organization, with respect to human disease. The three dimensional organization of the genome within the nucleus is important for proper gene regulation. Lamins are intermediate filament proteins that line the inner side of the nuclear envelope providing structural support for the nucleus and regulating gene expression through connections made with chromatin. Mutations in lamins cause a collection of diseases called laminopathies that include musculear dystrophy, cardiomyopathy and early onset aging. It is unclear how mutant lamins cause disease. To address this issue, the laboratory has generated a Drosophila (fruit fly) model for muscle laminopathies. Flies expressing mutant lamins exhibit muscular dystrophy and die due to loss of muscle function. This model is currently being used to understand how mutant lamins misregulate genes and cause altered signaling in biological pathways.

Eukaryotic genomes are packaged with histones and non-histone chromosomal proteins that collectively regulate gene expression. Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1) is a non-histone protein that collaboratorates with DNA methyltransferase I (DNMT1) to silence tumor suppressor genes. In collaboration with the laboratories of Charles Brenner (Biochemistry) and Kai Tan (Internal Medicine), experiments are underway to determine the effects of novel DNMT1 inhibitors on the re-activation of tumor suppressor genes in human breast cancer cells.

Selected Publications

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Zwerger M, Jaalouk D, Lombardi M, Isermann P, Mauermann M, Dialynas G, Herrmann H, Wallrath L, Lammerding J.  Myopathic lamin mutations impair nuclear stability in cells and tissue and disrupt nucleo-cytoskeletal coupling.  Human molecular genetics.  2013 June. 22(12):2335-49.

Wallrath L, Elgin S.  Enforcing silencing: dynamic HP1 complexes in Neurospora.  Nature structural & molecular biology.  2012 May. 19(5):465-7.

Dialynas G, Flannery K, Zirbel L, Nagy P, Mathews K, Moore S, Wallrath L.  LMNA variants cause cytoplasmic distribution of nuclear pore proteins in Drosophila and human muscle.  Human molecular genetics.  2012 April. 21(7):1544-56.

Geyer P, Vitalini M, Wallrath L.  Nuclear organization: taking a position on gene expression.  Current opinion in cell biology.  2011 June. 23(3):354-9.

Date Last Modified: 06/07/2014 - 21:56:23